home > Pastor’s Desk > 2022 > March 4th > THE SPIRIT EXPRESSLY SAYS

¶ Now the Spirit expressly says…
First Timothy 4:1

The apostle Paul’s journey with Christ commenced on the road to Damascus. It was a dramatic, miraculous moment that led to him being knocked off his horse, being blinded for days by a supernatural light emanating from Christ with whom he had an amazing conversation about his destiny. Paul’s conversion to Christianity was profoundly supernatural, but so was the rest of his journey with Christ. While many believers can also claim to have had a dramatic and supernatural conversion to Christ resulting in much Holy Spirit activity in the early days of their conversion, sadly, not many could also claim that decades later these supernatural activities by the Holy Spirit have increased both in their frequency and intensity, as they did with the apostle Paul. Paul’s deepening charismatic experience throughout his life becomes a challenge to those of us who think that “being ‘on-fire’ for God” is only a new-Christian experience. Here’s why Paul’s spiritual journey should be a challenge for each of us. Let me explain.

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit!
Ephesians 5:18

 

PAUL’S PENTECOSTAL ORIGINS

Paul grew up as a devout Jew. He was schooled by Israel’s leading teacher, Rabbi Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). He belonged to the ultra-strict sect of the Pharisees. Soon after Christianity was birthed, he personally felt responsible to violently wipe it out (Acts 8:3). His view of the world was shaped by what the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament, the Law) and the Tanakh (the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets – note, Luke 22:44) taught.  But then came his journey to Damascus. It was on that road that he met the Christ, the Jewish Messiah, the Hope of Israel. Three days after this dramatic appearing of Christ to Paul, a courageous disciple of Jesus, Ananias, was sent by the Lord to this infamous persecutor of the Church…

And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. ¶ Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized;
Acts 9:9-18

The Lord Jesus sent Ananias to Saul (whose Romans name was Paul) to (i) pray for his healing from blindness; (ii) pray for him to be filled with the Holy Spirit; and (iii) baptise him in water. Interestingly, we have immediate evidence of Paul being healed (i) and Paul being water baptised (iii). But was Paul “filled with the Holy Spirit” after Ananias prayed for him? And, what did being filled with the Holy Spirit mean to the first generations of Christians? We don’t have to wonder for very long. We read in Acts 2 that when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the first believers there was an immediate and dramatic effect upon them.

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Acts 2:4

But was this Paul’s experience if he was filled with the Spirit after Ananias prayed for him? The evidence is clear that it was.

I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.
First Corinthians 14:18

If we had the time we would also survey Paul’s epistles where he describes his experiences with the Holy Spirit including several visions (2Cor. 12:1), direct revelations from the Lord (Gal. 1:12; 2:2) a trip to heaven (2Cor. 12:2), many healings and miracles (Acts 19:6). For me, the increasing depth of the apostle Paul’s Pentecostal experiences is borne out in his epistles, especially in Romans 8 which is saturated with evidence of his intimacy with the Holy Spirit. But as I consider his last two epistles to Timothy, it is his statement in First Timothy 4:1 which reveals his increasing closeness with the Holy Spirit. He states the Spirit expressly says – as if he is reciting a conversation he has recently had with a very familiar friend. This is all the more remarkable because of the adverse circumstances that Paul was enduring at the time he wrote this. Within a matter of months after his Roman imprisonment he would be executed. This is why I find Paul one of the highest examples of a Spirit-filled servant of God. His intimacy with the Holy Spirit did not exempt him from doubts, trials, or even infirmities. But throughout his life he continued to seek God and the fullness of the fellowship with Holy Spirit. And so should we.

 

 

Your Pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

1 Comment

  1. LYDIA

    In the many years past I would not have known what it was to be transformed and filled with the Holy Spirit. I believed from a child on after all…hey. Yet, not even when it happened those 17 years ago did I understand the ramifications of that special day in March 2005. It took me just over three months to be obedient to the call to have Believer’s baptism.
    Often I use the analogy of glasses, the old glasses and the new ones. It was a new road of learning, stumbling and getting up again. The gems of the Bible would impact me as all of a sudden I ‘got it’ and from that first ‘revelation’ I understood those sermons (Thanks Jamie!) and the explanation of the text I was hearing – with new glasses on. Many times in those days I recall saying…”Is that what it REALLY says?” Not only had I short-changed the Scriptures, God’s living Word but I also short changed God the Holy Spirit, big time.
    I cannot confess to a perfect life but I can confess to a transformed life. Equally I cannot confess to a perfect life but again I can confess to a continually transforming life. Back in those days I was pulled up short when ever I fleetingly had those old glasses on. Very occasionally I pull myself up short today to not do that!
    God the Holy Spirit being one of the Persons of the Trinity, transforms, just as Saul ala Paul was transformed and the scales fell off his eyes, where he had many different experiences as a Spirit-filled man.
    Andrew I like the point about Ananias praying for ‘Paul’. In this way we can also pray for those, who God only knows and will call to Himself, those folks that He places on our pathways of life in one form or another, that they also are filled with the Spirit, that the Spirit moves them mightily and gives them clarity and discernment to leave the old path and walk on the new, never to be deceived again.

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CLOSING THE DEAL

In 1871, the American evangelist, Dwight (“DL”) Moody was preaching to huge crowds each night in Chicago. At the end of each message he would give an appeal for people to either respond immediately to the gospel message he had just presented, or at least go home and consider it. But on Sunday October 8th, 1871, a huge fire broke out in Chicago. It burned through the city for days and became known as The Great Chicago Fire. Around 10,000 people were homeless as a result, and hundreds of people lost their lives. Moody was heart-broken when he realised that many of the people who had died were the people who had attended that Sunday night meeting where he had urged them to consider accepting Christ. His deep grief over this tragedy led him to make a vow that he would never again merely urge people to simply consider accepting Christ. From now on, he vowed, he would plead with all those he preached to – to immediately turn away from their sins and turn to the Saviour. DL Moody committed his life and ministry as an evangelist to be someone who would always strive to close the deal because he was now aware—more than ever—that people’s eternal destinies were in jeopardy! 

BUILDING A MOODY CHURCH

The three things that make the Christian life exciting and enthralling are the same three things that enable a believer to develop a closer relationship with God. The combination of these supernatural gifts gives the child of God an awareness that there is more, much more, to this world than we can see, touch, taste or feel. When the Christian’s faith is grounded and buttressed in God’s Word, godly prayer, and God’s house he or she flourishes. But there are forces at play that are determined to stop the believer from reaching their spiritual destiny. While we might think these enemy forces only use the fiery darts of doubt to hinder the believer’s journey to glory, there is something that they successfully use far more often: our mood. This is why, for any church to be successful, it must discover how to build moody church.

PRAYING PRAYERS

The amazing thing about prayer, is that nearly everyone does it – but hardly anyone thinks they do it well. If you visit any Christian bookstore you will notice that the largest display of books is about prayer. And it’s not just Christian bookstores where you’ll find books on prayer. Regular bookstores also sell a wide range of books on prayer (even if they do classify them as books on ‘meditation’!). One of the most frequently searched questions on Google is, “How to pray” (which then points enquirers to over 2.3 billion web pages answering their question). But in all of human history – and two thousand years before anyone but one had ever heard of Google – there was just One person who was supremely qualified to answer this question. And fortunately for those of us who really want to know the answer to this question (without having to peruse more than 2.3 billion web pages!) He gave us the answer.

WHY SOME BELIEVE

Why is it that two people can look at exactly the same evidence and can come to completely different conclusions about it? Even more puzzling is how two equally qualified scientific experts can look at the same data and utterly disagree about what it means. This happens many times in court cases where the prosecution will call their “expert witness” to give his or her professional opinion to verify that the defendant is guilty only to have the defence to present their “expert witness” who gives his or her professional opinion as to why the prosecution’s expert witness was wrong and to prove that defendant is innocent! This at least illustrates why it is not always the quality of the evidence that leads a person to accept or reject a claim. This especially apply to the claims that Jesus Christ made. Of the four accounts in the New Testament written about His life, three of them were written by eye-witnesses and the other one (Luke’s) was written by someone who interviewed many eye-witnesses. It is with interest that we turn to the last one to be John’s Gospel, where he describes dramatic proofs that Jesus was who He claimed to be. Yet despite these otherwise inexplicable proofs that at times thousands of people witnessed, many still wouldn’t believe. But it seems among those who did believe they all had one thing in common.

UNPACKING CHRISTIANITY

home > Pastor's Desk > 2022 > JUNE 3rd > UNPACKING CHRISTIANITY UNPACKING CHRISTIANITY I have a thing for bags. Not shopping bags or lady’s handbags, but manly bags - functional bags. A few years back I became fed-up with the number of bags I was...

HOW TO OPEN LIFE’S LOCKED DOORS

When I turned 50, I decided to do something really difficult. I enrolled in a university course to learn Biblical Greek. And, trust me when I say, this in no way is a brag – because I struggled through it and took far far longer than the average Biblical Greek student ordinarily takes to complete this course. I had to do twenty translation tests and then two major translations exams of the New Testament’s Greek text into English. I scraped through the course and somehow managed to pass it. I can testify that learning another language later in life is really hard! This is why I have the utmost respect for non-English-speaking migrants who come to our country and manage to learn English. Learning languages is not the only thing I find difficult. I envy those people who do the things easily that I find difficult to do or understand (like quadratic mathematic equations for example). Over the years I have pondered why it is that different people doing the same task can result in a person finding it incredibly easy who then gets it done quickly, and why another other person finds it next-to-impossible and as a result gives up trying to do it. I have discovered the answer to this conundrum lies in the “mat” principle. 

JESUS ATE with SINNERS!

This confrontation of the All-Good meeting face-to-face with Serpent-breath in the wilderness didn’t go the way the Dragon had become accustomed to. Even more baffling to him was what the Eternal Son did next. Rather than going to the supposed ‘rulers of this world’ He went to the despised and inconsequential: the people of His hometown, Nazareth and those in the socio-economically challenged region of Galilee. 

¶ And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as was His custom, He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and He stood up to read…When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away.
¶ Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him, and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But He rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that He was the Christ.
Luke 4:16, 28-29, 40-41

Even more baffling to the Satan was that instead whipping up the mobs and leading a rebellion, the Christ went to the shunned, the despised, the broken, the humiliated, as their dinner Guest! It seemed like an odd strategy, especially to those who had been longing for so long for the arrival of the Promised One…

CHRISTIANITY IS A PROPOSAL NOT AN IMPOSAL

I do not want to give anyone the impression that Christian is just a set of intellectually propositions. It is much more but it is certainly not less. One of the propositions that we Christians make is that Christianity is a spiritual transformation of a soul. While its propositions are true, they are not just true, they invoke a miraculous transformation in a human being. Jesus described this as being “born again” (John 3:3). The New Testament describes the moment this happens as being a transaction with God where we surrender our life and our sin to Him and He gives us His life and His pardon (1Jn. 1:8-9)! This transaction includes a hope that goes beyond the grave. God the Father adopts all those who turn to Him. It results a new way of seeing life and the world. The things that once troubled us no longer do, because we have a growing confidence that God has a plan and is currently outworking that plan. If you have never surrendered your life in a transaction with God, you can now. You are just one prayer away from peace with God and purpose for your life – both now and beyond the grave! The choice is yours. We can’t impose this offer from God on you, but I do have a proposition for you.

DIVINELY PRECIOUS TRIPLETS

Some of the profound truths in the Bible are expressed in just three words. The late J.I. Packer, one of the world’s most respected modern theologians, was asked to sum up the gospel message. He did so in just three words: “God saves sinners.” Many of the most eloquent prayers ever uttered have consisted of no more than three words: “Help me Lord”, “Thank You God”, “God save me”, “Please heal her.” One of the greatest royal invitations only consisted of three words: “Come unto Me.” Three words is all it takes to start an exciting journey: “Come and see.” Many of these three words statements, prayers, and invitations, have become divinely precious triplets that have rescued a lost soul, repaired a broken relationship, and replenished the worn-out.  

ETERNAL LIFE IS NOT JUST MERELY A MATTER OF TIME

The beauty of John 3:16 is that it is so simple it can be understood even by a child; and yet, as a believer’s knowledge of God and His Word grows, he or she will come to discover that there is a wealth of spiritually-satisfying treasure to be mined! In its simplest form, Jesus died so that all those who turn to Him in trust will go to heaven after leaving this life. Dig a little deeper though, and you also discover that the eternal life on offer is not merely about a location (‘heaven’) or a duration of time—but a quality of life and status of existence that elevates the believer into a glorified state with God Himself (Rom. 8:17; 1John 3:2). Our lives are now the training ground for our status as co-regents and co-rulers with Christ over all of His redeemed creation (1Cor. 6:2-3)!